GROUPS AND ASSOCIATIONS
AGRICULTURAL ASSOCIATION – In 1865, the president of this association was Wm. Lawson, chairman C Fitch Kemp and secretary Mr J Betts. On 9th February of that year, the association held a ploughing match in two fields on the Mountains Estate near Hildenborough Church. There were three classes: wheel ploughs, foot ploughs and ploughs of all sorts. This was followed by a dinner at the Flying Dutchman at 4 o’clock; tickets 3s. each were obtainable from the secretary or Mr Crispe at the Flying Dutchman. At the prize giving of the association in 1872, although no one from Hildenborough won a prize in the ploughing match, Mr J Goldsmith and his wife of Lower Street Farm, won a prize for being the couple who had lived longest on the same farm, been of good character and had the most children.
BADMINTON CLUB – An inaugural meeting was held in November, 1971 led by some members of the Hildenborough Tennis club, who went on to be members of the steering and club committees. The club opened in January, 1972 using the newly-constructed court which was a feature of the new village hall, and in September that year joined the Tunbridge Wells Badminton League. In 1988 the Mixed ‘A’ team was successful in winning their division (Mixed Lower 1st) and the League composite cup. In 1994 there were 35 members with one ladies’, one men’s and three mixed teams, all well placed in the T.W.B.L. the junior club was revived in 1993, providing tuition for 18 youngsters of 8 years and above, and later developed for older children. In March, 1993 the club celebrated its 21st anniversary at Bourneside Barn, Hadlow, which brought together present and past members for an evening of reminiscence. In 2007 they are the third oldest Club in the League. Both seniors and juniors play at Sackville School, where 4 courts are used, from September to April. Club night is Monday with each session lasting from 8-10.30 pm. In 2007 the Club has 56 members and runs 10 teams in the TWBL, 3 mixed, 2 ladies and 5 mens.The Club has a summer season which from 2002 has been held at Combe Bank School, Sundridge as Sackville is not available. In the 2006-2007 season the club revamped the junior section which had been continuously since its foundation. They cater for sixty children who are split into 3 equal squads. Beginners and Improvers play in sequential sessions on Saturday mornings (ten week term) and on Mondays, before the start of the senior session the top squad is coached in advanced stroke play and tactics. In 2007 the Club has 10 youngsters in the senior club which demonstrates the benefits of the junior policy.The Club has 5 full coaches and 5 assistants.
BLANKET FUND – Organised by Miss Ellen Lawson of Noble Tree Cross House. In 1893, between 40 and 50 persons availed themselves of the opportunity to secure these useful winter coverings @ 1/- (one shilling) per year. The blankets were distributed through District Visitors. In 1896, an additional charge of 6d. was made ‘the reason being that so many blankets are returned in a very dirty state and quite unfit to go out till they have been washed’. (‘Home Words’ Oct. 1896). Still in existence in 1912.
BOOT AND SHOE CLUB – A savings club organised by Miss Turnbull to enable families to save for the winter boots and shoes. In 1902, it was found necessary to revise the rules of this club as follows:
the club begins the first Monday in January, and ends on the last Monday in October. Members may pay in any sum that they like, at the School, from twelve to a quarter to one; but not more than two may be allowed to pay in from any one family. Only parishioners, i.e. those living within the Ecclesiastical district of Hildenborough, may become members of the club. A bonus of 2d. on the shilling will be given up to 20s. once in the year, but only if the amount deposited be drawn out by ticket. Only those really in need of the help of such a club may become members. The tickets can only be made payable at East’s; Freeman, Hardy & Willis; Brock & Co. and Humphrey, Hildenborough. Discontinued in 1922.
BOYS BRIGADE – started on 14th October, 1897. In January, 1898 the first Hildenborough Company of the Boys Brigade assembled at the school in full strength for the first friends’ night. The boys were in full uniform with caps, haversacks and belts. The proceedings were opened by Mr G W Johnson, then the boys were put through an exhibition drill by Lieut. Francis and Lieut. Morris. Non-commissioned officers selected were Sergeants G Hitchcock and E Bristow, Corporals W Maxted and W Neal and Lance Corporal R Killick. In 1908 the Brigade Harriers, Will May, Arthur Buss, Jim Allen and Joe Robinson, won an inter-brigade competition. A photograph taken about 1910 or 1911 includes Capt Spender-Clay, M.P., Mr Fred Buss, Capt. Johnson, Lieut. E. Barrett, Mr David Tapp, Philip, John and Harry Fuller. Early in 1916, it became the Church Lads’ Brigade, a uniformed cadet corps under Territorial regulations. The commanding officer was G W Johnson with Rev. Strand and E Buss as lieutenants. During the first World War, one of the old boys of the Brigade, Bert Thorne with the Kent Cyclist Battalion, wrote home requesting cricket things ‘for use when out of the trenches’. The Brigade and the village Cricket Club sent 4 bats and 6 balls. Former members who returned from the war were: Geo. Field, P Knight, J Ireland, J Allen, A Brown, Walter King, Stan Hitchcock and H Neale. On 15th October, 1958 the Boys Brigade began again after a gap of many years, under the control of the Parish Church , but ceased to operate in 1966 due to lack of leaders. Officers and instructors initially were: Mr E T Wells, 31 Wealden Close, Mr P Eldridge, 5 Riding Park and Mr E C Mason, New Trench, Riding Lane.
CHORAL SOCIETY – was formed in 1905 and gave its first concert in the Drill Hall that year. In 1908, both William and Frances Burgess were commended for their singing. The society appears to have disbanded and been reformed over the years. In 1923, the Church organist, Mr Stonely, restarted the society with 30 members and again it was reformed in 1954, under the musical direction of Mr R G F Sutton. In 1956, under conductor George Smith, the society competed in the Tunbridge Wells Music Festival and won the Silver Challenge Cup. In 1970, and again in 1973, members joined with London choirs at Alexandra Palace to perform Handel’s Messiah, accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Yehudi Menuhin. Mr G McAllister was welcomed as the new conductor in 1970. By 1977, membership was greatly reduced and although on occasions they joined with the singers from Sevenoaks and also with the Hadlow choir, the society eventually disbanded.
CONSERVATION GROUP – this group was formed in 1982 when the Parish Council purchased Westwood for a public open space. Founder members were Lynne Flower, Anita Fleming, Mary Perry, Tony Atkinson and George Gorham. Membership comprises a number of local people whose interest in wildlife extends to a desire to conserve as much as is possible of our rich Kentish heritage for future generations to enjoy. Activities in Westwood include pond and ditch clearing, erection of nest boxes, coppicing, path improvement and also cutting and raking unmown areas of Cricket Meadow. Parties from local schools, scouts and guides are taken on pond-dipping and natural history explorations throughout the summer. Many of these young people put in hours of useful work, under supervision, as part of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.
CRICKET CLUB – There has been a cricket club in Hildenborough since the 1860s and there is a list of 40 subscribers attached to the statement of accounts of 1879. However there had never been any rules, so in 1896, Mr C Fitch Kemp became the first President and with the help of E Hendry, H H Hitchcock and R Hitchcock, rules were drawn up and the subscription settled at 2/6d. payable 1st May. Matches were played at Oakhill Cricket Ground (open area of Westwood), until the recreation ground was opened in 1932.
During the summer of 1961, the local team were given ‘a scintillating exhibition of batting’ by West Indies’ Test skipper, Clyde Walcott, when he captained the President’s XI, and went on to score 115 runs. So devastating was the bowling of Mordecai, that Hildenborough only managed to score 42 runs. The visit of the West Indians was arranged by Mr David Powell of Roughetts, Coldharbour Lane, Chairman of Booker Brothers.
In 1991, the club joined the West Kent League and were league champions in 1992 and 1993 a period when the Club was very successful and ran both a Saturday and a Sunday side with a mix of experienced and young, talented players. Towards the end of the nineties numerous players had either retired or moved away and the Club ceased to function in 1998. In 2002 supported and sponsored by the Half Moon Public House and Nev’ l’ ‘Fixit of Tonbridge the Club reinvented itself as a pub side, putting together a few local fixtures.The ;Club played with passion but little success, as it did not win a match until the end of 2003. Since then the Club has attracted sponsorship from SR Services and grown in strength, in 2006 it had it’s best season since re-formation with more wins than losses and winning the inaugural Hildenborough Charity Cricket Challenge Cup-a complex tournament in aid of Cancer Research UK.
In 2006 the Half Moon stood down as sponsors and the Club is solely sponsored by Hildenborough Social Club who act as the club house and provide the venue to club members and opponents for many an enjoyable post match session.
DARBY & JOAN CLUB – Between 1929 and 1934 each July, an outing to Hastings was arranged for the over 70s by Rev. Chamberlen, assisted by Mrs Houghton of Wilma Cottage and Mr Mackney of the Limes. A meeting for this age group was held at Philpots on 25th April, 1953 but regular meetings did not start until 1960. See also H.O.P.S.
FOOTBALL CLUB – The first annual meeting was held on 15th September, 1903 after a successful first season. Mr J Macey was captain and Mr Cannon, vice-captain. In 1904 they joined the Tonbridge League, which they won in 1911, as well as the Tunbridge Wells Charity Cup, under captain Charles Palmer. It is recorded that of the 1911 team, 10 were teetotallers and non-smokers! The club was restarted in 1919 after a five-year break, and by 1920, there were 30 members. In the years before the recreation ground was opened in 1932, matches were played on a field now part of Riding Park. The club has kept going, apart from the years 1939 – 1945, and still plays regularly, although marches are now played at Longmead Sports Ground in Tonbridge.
FOXBUSH HARRIERS – founded in 1883 by Mr C Fitch Kemp. His eldest son C W Middleton Kemp took charge until March, 1903 when they disbanded and became the Hadlow Harriers. The hounds were kennelled at Little Foxbush Cottage and looked after by Mr Ted Chaplin (died 1933). They caused much amusement, as they always howled in unison when the church bells started to ring on Sunday mornings.
GARDENERS’ SOCIETY – formed 3rd January, 1896. The first chairman was Mr Bosanquet of Mardens, the vice-chairman was Mr Horace Hitchcock and the secretary Mr A Heath. It was known as the Hildenborough Cottages and Allotment Holders Association. On the first committee were Messrs. J Francis, F Killick (Snr) and G Card (allotment holders); Messrs A. Bolton, E. Ham and M Biddle (professional gardeners) and Messrs King, E Hendry and G Challan (cottagers). The first monthly meeting was held on 12th February, 1896 in the Parish Room at the Institute . Sometime later the name was changed to Hildenborough Gardeners Society which enabled Head Gardeners of the large house to compete with the Schedule of Classes slit into two one for members employing full time gardeners and one for Cottagers and Allotment Holders. The first Flower Show was held on Wednesday 19th August on the Glebe field adjoining the Church. Shows have been held annually (except during the war years)mainly in the field adjoining Foxbush (now the playing field of Sackville School) but also at Mountain’s Field, the Glebe Field and, prior to moving to the Village Hall, in a marquee on the Recreation Ground.Great rivalry between the professional gardeners led to a very high standard of exhibits , a local journalist at one time describing the Show as Hildenborough’s Little Chelsea. In addition entertainment was arranged for the attendees who enjoyed listening to one of the local bands or displays by, for example, the Fire Brigade as well as sports for both grown ups and children.One of the highlights being "tilt the bucket’ and a ‘ thread the needle’ race where at the end the lady had to sew a patch on the back of her partner. Dancing followed until late in the evening. The professional classes still flourished in the latter part of the twentieth century and, while at the Rec., displays by local Nurseries were a feature. From early days the winter programme has mainly consisted of monthly lectures by a visiting speaker. Recently the Society has offered their Members the opportunity to buy from their store at the Recreation Ground on Saturdays.
GIRL GUIDES – The Guide Movement came to Hildenborough in 1919 when both the 1st Hildenborough Guide Company and the 1st Hildenborough Brownie Pack were opened. Miss Evelyn Turnbull was Captain of the Guides. The Guides disbanded in 1931, but were reformed in 1942 and run by Miss Lydia Heathfield until 1964. The 2nd Hildenborough Guide Company was opened in 1971 by Miss Denise Pilbeam and one of the Guides was chosen to take part in a County Laser Camp. For a short while there was also a a Ranger unit. The 1st Hildenborough Brownie pack was formed in 1919 and operated until 1937 when it was disbanded but opened again in 1940 by Miss Dorothy Heathfield and ran until 1962. The 2nd Hildenborough Brownie Pack was formed in 1964, the 3rd in 1970, the 4th in 1971 and the 5th in 1978. Over the years the girls have joined in many village activities including, the mile of pennies for charity in the 1950s and in the 1990s helping the Conservation Group to clear brambles from Westwood and running stalls at their open days and taking part in Queen Elizabeth II’s Jubilee celebrations. In 2007 only the !1st Hildenborough Guide Company and 5th Brownie pack are operating, not due to lack of interest as there is a waiting list, but because of a lack of helpers.
GIRLS FRIENDLY SOCIETY – First quarterly meeting held at Mardens on Tuesday, 3rd January, 1893 for the purpose of enrolling members. At some time, possibly at the onset of the First World War, the society disbanded; it was reformed in 1935 and continued until 1949. The banner which hangs in the Church contains the names of the girls who embroidered it. Some of them : Molly Mitchell (nee Ager) still lives in the village in 2006, Doris Hoare lives in Tonbridge but Joan Tipping (nee Bridges) has died.
HILDENBOROUGH DRUM and FIFE BAND – in existence in 1883.
HOCKEY CLUB – Inaugurated in September, 1925 with 30 members. The Rev. Chamberlen was chairman and F L Hunt, secretary. By the next season there were three teams: men’s, ladies’ and mixed. Matches were played on a field at The Old Barn by kind permission of Commander Tomlinson.
HOME GUARD – Originally known as No 13 Platoon, C Company, 21st (Tonbridge) Battalion, Kent Home Guard when formed in May, 1940. In 1941 they became No. 1 Platoon, K Company, 20th Sevenoaks Battalion and for a short while before being stood down in 1944, they were under the command of 32nd Edenbridge Battalion. Their duties included night observation and patrol duties, locating and reporting enemy airborne parachutists and guarding the telephone exchange, railway bridges, the glass factory etc. Training was given in the use of firearms, map reading, battlecraft, signalling etc. Their headquarters was the Drill Hall, Riding Lane and the main observation post was the windmill at Watts Cross.
H.O.P.S. – Hildenborough Old People’s Society, originally Darby & Joan. Started in 1960 by 5 friends, Lily Pooley, Kitty North, Phyllis Clark, Audrey Stephens and Doris Austin. As there was no organisation for the elderly, they decided to hire the Drill Hall fortnightly on a Friday afternoon. They each provided 6 cups, saucers and plates, and home-made cakes. Doris Austin recalled, "We put hand-bills all around the village and wondered how many would come. We were delighted to have a good crowd for our first meeting, more came to the following meetings and we then knew it was a success." Later, they invited Kathleen Davison, who was well known in the village, to come and talk to folk while the ladies were getting the tea ready. When Dr. and Mrs Davison moved to Tunbridge Wells, they asked Margery Finzi to be their leader and "she was wonderful in her lovely caring way and they all loved her". The Society still meets fortnightly, led since 1988 by Anne Hawkins, in the summer meetings are held in private gardens and in the winter,when there are speakers, in the Church Hall, with transport provided by a team of volunteers. They hold two special lunches a year and make two outings to places of interest. In 2007 the Society continues to provide a most useful service to senior members of the local community allowing them to meet their friends on a regular basis.
INDOOR BOWLS – There are two clubs
Hildenborough indoor (Short Mat) Bowls Club the brain-child of Jim England, a Parish Councillor who, through the Village Hall Management Committee, issued an open invitation to all householders in the Parish to attend a demonstration of "Short-mat" bowling in the Village Hall on Sunday afternoon, 20th February 1983 with the aim of forming a club for the over 60s. The demonstration was given by Mr & Mrs D. Lyle from Maidstone and about 50 people attended. Such was the interest that, during March, a steering committee was formed with Jim England as chairman, Doug Mariarty treasurer and Mabel Goodman secretary, together with Irene Simmonds, Arthur Randall and Ernest Vallence. By the beginning of May, approximately £1000 had been raised from the sale of lottery tickets and donations including £100 from Age Concern, £200 from the Parish Council and £35 from the village waste-paper collection. This was sufficient for the club which meets on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons in the Village Hall to open on 12th May, 1983 with 41 members, subscription being £5 per annum plus 30p playing fee per afternoon. Later the age limit was reduced to 55 years. In 2007 the Club has two teams both competing in the Afternoon and Evening Leagues. Hildenborough Short Mat Bowls Club (Sunday) was subsequently formed by Members of the Social Club and also meets in the Village Hall
INSTITUTE CYCLING CLUB – during the summer of 1902, 16 members took part in 17 runs, captained by J. Rich. Prizewinners that year were J. Rich and E. May (joint 1st), R. Gorham (3rd) and W. May (4th).
MASQUE PLAYERS – This amateur dramatic society was founded in 1960 and as an offshoot of the drama section of the local W.I., some of whose members were no longer content to put on single-sex plays. Initial motivation and organisation were provided by Stan Sharp who was, at the time, Deputy Head of Hildenborough C.E. Primary School. He was first secretary and also produced the first play, "The Camel’s Back" by Arnold Helsby, in the Village Hall in the spring of 1961. He also produced the next two plays presented by the Society which were "Kind Cousin" by Janet Allen in November, 1961 and "One of Those Days" by Kent Richards in May 1962. The cast of "Kind Cousin" was Phyllis Coleman, Joan Sharp, Len Nicholls, Bunny West, Dudley Tizzard, Edna Nicholls, Edna Berry, Pat Chisholm, Monty Coleman, Joan Sharp, Paul Manakee, Christopher Thomas and Shelagh Griffiths. Until 1985, when it disbanded, the Masque Players had presented two plays a year.
MOTHERS UNION – The Hildenborough branch was founded in 1895 by Mrs Bosanquet, Mr Pidcock (Vicar’s wife) and Miss Lawson; a) to uphold the sanctity of marriage, b) to awaken in mothers a sense of their great responsibility as mothers in training their boys and girls (the future fathers and mothers of England) and c) to organise in every place a band of mothers who will unite in prayer and lead their families in purity and holiness of life. The Hildenborough branch eventually became the Women’s Fellowship later being called Wednesday Focus.
NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH SCHEME – This security scheme was introduced in the village in 1987, and while initially the village was well covered with volunteers for specific areas, in recent years this cover has dropped away due to lack of co-ordinators. To get up to date information on crime/problems in the village contact the Police Liason Officer at Tonbridge Police Station.
RIFLE CLUB – Opened in March, 1907 by Lord Hardinge and the first shot was fired by Mrs Levin, "our generous donor and originator of the Club". Two rifles, bearing the Government inspection stamp and made after the latest Army pattern, were acquired. The headquarters was the Drill Hall and members had to be over the age of 18 years. Mr Walter King was range officer and Horace Hill, treasurer. Members were informed that "this is no mere game but a serious attempt, sanctioned by the War Office, to teach all men in our country the use of the rifle for the defence of their country". After the Second World War, the club used a Nissen hut erected on land behind Oakhill House rented from Mr Reg Brooks, who was also president of the club at that time. In 1986, when Oakhill House was sold to Fidelity International, the club moved to the Gaza trading estate.
ROYAL BRITISH LEGION – The Hildenborough Branch was formed on 9th October, 1946 and meetings were held in the Social Club until the hall was built in Mount Pleasant in 1956.
The women’s section, whose motto is "Service not Self", was formed in October 1960 to care for the wives and children of serving and ex-serving men who were in need. The president was Mrs E. Edwards, secretary Mrs M. Cooke and the first Standard bearer was Mrs J. Smith. During the first 5 years, there were two or three different Standard bearers but after her election in 1966, Mrs V. Hayes proudly carried out this duty for 28 years.
Funds were raised by fetes, jumble sales, whist & beetle drives, often raising £3,000.
After the membership dwindled the Womens Section Branch was closed by the County in June 1995 because it was no longer viable, The remaing members then became involved in other Branches.
The Poppy Day collection continues.
SCOUTS – The 8th Tonbridge (Hildenborough) Scout Group was formed in 1936. Dr Beaufort Fraser was the first scoutmaster, and he allowed the scouts to use a hut in his grounds. During the war years, the troop was not really active, but it was reformed in 1948, with a Service of Dedication at the scout hut. The scouts were poorly supported however, and closed down in 1951. The cubs were kept going by Ted Manners and two other leaders by running a sixer pack from each of three separate houses. Following the return from National Service of Brian Fitz, son of the headmaster of the primary school who became a Cub Scout Leader, Ted Manners started the troop again in 1953. They met in a small hut, between the police house and the nurse’s house in Foxbush. The troop performed their own scouting shows and the first one was held in the Drill Hall, Riding Lane in March 1959. By this time, the troop had outgrown their hut. Eventually, an ex-army building was purchased, erected and furnished for £2000, on land owned by the parish Council for a peppercorn rent of £10 per annum. An auxiliary store, for the canoes and larger items, was erected in 1974. Commencing in 1970, the troop published its own journal for several years. In recent years, a scout has regularly attended the International Jamborees. In 1993, the troop was one of the largest in the area with 14 warranted leaders, 12 Ventures, 41 Scouts, 51 Cub Scouts and 20 Beavers. It was therefore decided by the executive committee, that the scout hut should be replaced. After an extensive fund raising campaign over many years £50,000 was raised and a new building was built on the Riding Lane site and finally opened in October 2005. The primary fund raiser is the Firework display o the Recreation Ground around 5th November. In 2007 the Troop is still very active but unable to recruit sufficient leaders to cater for the children who would like to join.
SLATE CLUB – The first annual share-out took place on 18th December 1901 when 61 members received £1 2s. 4d. each. Joint secretaries were C.H. Scott and Wm. Castle, and the treasurer was W. Holmwood. In 1903, together with the local Friendly Societies, they held their first annual Church Parade on 14th June and despite a very wet day, the church was nevertheless full. The procession formed in the school yard at 2.15pm headed by the 11th Co. (Hild) West Kent Boys’ brigade and the splendid Brass Band of the C Company 1st Vol. Battalion of the Royal West Kent Regiment. They proceeded via Shipbourne Road (Riding Lane), The New Road, Mount Pleasant, Church Road, Park Terrace and London Road to the Parish Church, where the Rev. Stone conducted a special service at 3pm. Closed in 1922.
SPORTS ASSOCIATION – was formed in 1984 initially to star a squash club at Hilden Manor. The aims of the association were to promote and assist sport and recreation in the village, the state schools and all Clubs. Fund have been used to start and succour the Squash Club, assist junior cricket, short tennis and football, and effect improvements to the pavilion.The money has come from the annual Fun Run which has been (except for 1991) held since 1985. In recent years the competitors have reached 350 taking part in either 5 or 10 mile runs with a 4km event for youngsters.
STOOLBALL CLUB – The ladies club was founded in the early 1960s by Mrs Lucy Sellers and Mrs Berry. These two ladies were encouraged to start the team by the then Kent county stoolball team captain, Mrs Roper, who at that time also lived in the village. Mrs Roper generously provided the funds for the purchase of wickets, bats and balls. She also presented a cup to be awarded each year to the most improved player. By 1966, the club was a full member of the West Kent Stoolball League. At first wins were few, but eventually the Club became one of the strongest in the league, being league winners in 1992 and 1993. The mixed team was formed in 1982 and proved so popular with the younger players, that a further mixed team was formed in 1988.The Club continues to be very active.
TENNIS CLUB – Hildenborough Tennis Club was originally Westwood Tennis Club, formed in 1947, and members played on a hard concrete court owned by local builder, Edgar Woodhams, sited near where the new medical centre now stands. The name was changed at the 11th annual meeting in April 1958 held in the Institute Room, Riding Lane, when Nigel Clark was elected chairman and D.H. Catt re-elected secretary. As the club grew, they moved to play on the two red shale courts at the back of Hilden Manor. When these were demolished to make way for the swimming pool, three grass courts on Tonbridge recreation ground were hired. At about this time, the club joined the Kent League and Duncan Clarke coached young people in the village. In 1968, the first hard courts were opened on the recreation ground in Hildenborough and when a third was added in 1990, as a result of members’ fund raising efforts, the club relinquished the Tonbridge courts. For some years, membership has remained around 80 adults and 60 children, and low junior fees with a range of coaching facilities have remained a priority. In recent years, the two village schools have been given free use of the courts to encourage young players.
TONBRIDGE RURAL DISTRICT COUNCIL– When Local Government was reorganised in 1974 the Parish was presented with the painting of the building of the Sevenoaks bypass which is now displayed in the Library and several trees were also planted in the grounds of Stocks Green School alongside Leigh Road.
TOC H – a group was formed in November 1946. They met in the Welfare hut and all men over 16 years old were invited. The Chairman was Mr H.C. Simmons, treasurer Mr J.R. Moore and secretary Mr D.F. Tizzard.
UTILITY RABBIT CLUB – started in 1918 and 26 members. Became Hildenborough Fanciers Association in 1919 when poultry and cage birds were included. About 1932, it appears to have divided into two groups; Mrs H. Hills was president of the Fur & Feather Association and G.W. Johnson was chairman of the Hildenborough & District Fanciers Association.
THE VILLAGE PLAYERS – In January 1904, members of the Institute performed "The Miser’s Bargain" written by Mr Dagney Major and Mr John Johnson, two local celebrities. The cast consisted of Mr Geo. Ingrams, Mr F. Marriott, Mr A. Killick, Mr R. Killick, Mr J. Rich, Mr P. Ingrams, Mr C. Cheeseman, Mr Wm. Burgess, Mr J. Macey, Mr A. Goldsmith, Mr R. Neale, Mr W. May and Mr H. Ford: or to put it another way, several cricket-ball makers, a grocer’s assistant, a grocer’s man, an under gardener, a blacksmith, a blacksmith’s improver, an engineer, a rural postman, a waggoner’s mate and a gardener’s boy! The scenery was painted by Mr G. W. Johnson, who was also stage manager, and the orchestra, with Mr W. Chisholm as musical director, included Mrs Scott, piano; Messrs W. Chisholm, M.C. Morris, D.W. King and W. Woodman, violins; and Mr F. Martin, cello. The play received excellent reviews in the "Daily Mail" and "Daily Chronicle".
Following their success in 1904, the Village Players performed "The Luck of the Brians" in 1905; in 1906 an original drama in Prologue and 3 Acts by Dagney Major "The Pilgrims Rest"; 1907 "Back to the Land"; 1907 "Enemies"; 1909 "In days of Yore"; 1910 "The Gentleman from London"; and in 1912 "The Miser’s Bargain".
VILLAGE PRESERVATION ASSOCIATION – formed in 1973 as a spontaneous reaction to the proposed massive development at Hilden Farm which was successfully opposed.
The constitution’s aims are:
"To secure the preservation, protection, development and improvement of the amenities of the Parish."
"To promote high standards of architecture and planning in schemes affecting the Parish."
"To stimulate public interest in and concern for the local environment."
WOMEN’S INSTITUTE – formed in 1919. At their first meeting on 12th March, 70 members enrolled and Mrs Henry Hills was elected the first president. The Evening Institute was formed in 1963, with Mrs LeFevre the first president and Mrs Joan Radvan secretary. Initially, 57 members enrolled and this number increased steadily, until there were 110 members and a waiting list! Both institutes have been strong supporters of County produce and craft shows and have won their fair share of awards. A bursary to the W.I. college is provided annually by both institutes, and education remains a priority, as does voluntary work in the community.
WORKING MEN’S CLUB – this appears to have evolved from the Men’s Institute and to have become the Social Club 1936. Reference is made to this club in 1933 when Mr J.G. Barns of Thrift Cottage was the Treasurer. During the Second World War, he worked hard raising funds for the Comforts Fund and was a favourite with the children of the village as he always had some dolly mixtures for them. For nearly 30 years, he was a member of the Parish Council and in latter years he was the honorary Verger at the church. He died in 1959, aged 82.